Congratulations! You’ve written a children’s book! You love reading children’s books so much you have dedicated yourself to learning the craft and written one yourself. And you’ve done the homework from Part 1, right? No? OK take a minute and go read that post and then do the homework. Then come back here.
Great job! I’m proud of you, because doing all of that reading is great research.
But there’s more work to do. Now that you are familiar with current children’s books, it’s time to learn the essentials of writing a good story. I teach a picture book writing course for McDaniel College, and we spend weeks learning about the structure of a strong picture book.
There is a basic formula to writing good stories, regardless of the age of the audience. It comes down to a creating a compelling character with a goal. Then you must introduce an obstacle that is keeping them from reaching that goal. Finally, the main character uses their unique traits or behaviors or qualities to overcome the obstacle and achieve their goal.
It’s not too hard when you think of it like that. Anyone can write a story with those elements.
But it’s also really hard. Because most of the time people write stories that leave out those elements, and then the stories aren’t any good.
Now I have a question for you. Do you want to write ANY story? Just drop some words on paper, slap some illustrations on the pages, print the book and be done? OK, then you don’t have to do this next homework assignment. But if you want to write a GOOD STORY, then take the time to do this homework. Whether you are self-publishing or aiming for the traditional publishing industry path, these books will make your story better. You will be a better writer. You will create something that satisfies readers and they will want to read more.
As always, the choice is yours. If you choose to continue, then for your next homework assignment, you have more reading. Pick up these books from the library or your local independent bookstore.
Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul
Second Sight by Cheryl B. Klein
From Cover to Cover by Kathleen T. Horning
Don’t forget to take notes!